Archive | 22:20

Bauhaus and the Bates Motel in New Jersey

6 Sep

Ink drawing: the Bauhaus apartment.

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit friends based at the Princeton University Institute of Advanced Studies in the USA. I was expecting New Jersey to be a cross between a Bruce Springsteen song and The Sopranos but I had a surprise because it was beautiful. The university campus is an odd mix of all sorts of architectural periods; rich benefactors endow buildings and seem to prefer historic styles, even to having mature trees transplanted in front of their buildings so they look very old and well-established instead of newbuild faux Victorian or whatever. I’m a keen gardener so I know how hard it is to keep a large transplanted tree alive and to stop it from falling over. That’s REAL money.

Our friends had a wonderful Bauhaus style apartment in a development of similar units set in parkland. The layout was a piece of brilliant modern open-plan design, spacious and airy with a vacuum cleaner that sucked dust into the cavity wall. Cool. We’re so used to modern architecture that it’s easy to forget that how revolutionary this stuff was when it was first built and this complex is one of the best examples I have seen.

While I was there my friends drove me up to visit the Printmaking Centre of New Jersey, about 45 minutes through beautiful Autumn countryside that reminded me of Powys back home except the houses were mostly made from wood. Eventually a tall rickety wooden building came into view that resembled Bates’ Motel from the film Psycho. It was the printmaking centre and it looked very sinister. I told my friends but as they’re Danish and Pakistani, they didn’t get the cultural reference and thought it was quaint. It spooked me out at first but inside is lovely with loads of printmaking facilities and a gallery.

I did this ink drawing in my sketchbook of Melvyn, my husband, looking out of the Bauhaus apartment through the large picture window onto the parkland in Princeton. You can see electrical cables clearly; I was surprised to see so many wherever we went; most cabling in Britain is buried. It was also the first place that I saw black squirrels, but they’ve now arrived in the UK.



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